A few notes from Twin Lakes Park

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles left-handed pitching prospect DL Hall, who ended last year on the injured list, begins this season fully healthy.

The 21-year-old Hall didn’t pitch in 2019 after Aug. 8 due to a lat strain. In 19 games for Single-A Frederick, the club’s 2017 top draft pick went 4-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 80 2/3 innings.

Hall said it didn’t take too long to fully recover from that issue.

“About a month and a half, two months,” he said Saturday at the Buck O’Neil Complex at Twin Lakes Park. “I did some rehab and all in all took about two and a half months off. Then got back going and haven’t had any problems since.

“It was a very productive offseason this year. I think I really focused a lot more than in past years just on getting back healthy and just trying to really prepare and jump start myself into a huge year this year.”

Hall’s rehab began even before the 2019 season ended, so it didn’t impact his winter work much at all.

DL-Hall-Delivers-Futures-Game-Sidebar.jpg“The first month of rehab was basically during the end of last season,” he said. “So I basically got in a full offseason of working out. Always take the first couple of weeks off anyway, so it was pretty good.”

Hall is ranked as baseball’s No. 47 prospect by Baseball America and No. 69 via MLBPipeline.com. For the last two years, he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in his league - in the South Atlantic League in 2018 and in the Carolina League in 2019.

His season last summer included an appearance representing the Orioles in the All-Star Futures Games, where he worked a 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches.

“It was unbelievable, like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Super surreal. There were 40,000 in the stands. Lot of adrenaline. I was a little nervous at first, but once I threw that first pitch I felt better,” said Hall, who could begin the new season in the Double-A Bowie rotation.

Big Mike getting ready too: Right-hander Michael Baumann shared the Orioles’ Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award in 2019 with Single-A Delmarva’s Grayson Rodriguez.

Over 24 games with Frederick and Double-A Bowie, Baumann went 7-6 with a 2.98 ERA. In 124 innings, he gave up just 85 hits, only four homers and posted a career-best 10.31 strikeout rate.

Rated as the O’s No. 8 prospect by MLBPipeline.com and No. 10 by Baseball America, he’s got a solid fastball and plus slider and now he is working to hone his other secondaries - the curve and changeup.

Baumann posted better numbers at Double-A than at Single-A. He went 6-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 1.05 WHIP for Bowie and pitched a nine-inning no-hitter against Harrisburg.

“After the season, I looked back to see what I needed to work on,” he said. “Just being more consistent and I made some delivery adjustments. It helped my confidence a lot (to pitch so well for the Baysox), just taking the momentum from one start into the other. I could mentally tell myself, ‘I can do this, I can build off this.’ And I had the guys around me to learn from and push me along the way.”

So why did he pitch better at the higher level?

“I think just sticking to my throwing program and trusting the work I was putting in daily,” he said. “Just sticking with that on a daily basis and it started to show more as the season went on. I just figured out some timing and some things started to click more.”

While he leaned on the slider a lot in 2019, Baumann feels he made some gains with the curve and changeup that will serve him well going forward.

Pop making progress after surgery: In July 2018, he was one of the five players the Orioles acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the trade for Manny Machado. And right-hander Zach Pop threw well for Baltimore in 2018 and again early last year before elbow issues ended his season.

He started the season going 1-0 with an ERA of 0.84 with 11 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. But Pop underwent Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews last May. Now he’s begun the road back.

How is the rehab coming?

“It’s good,” he said. “We’re up to (throwing) flatgrounds right now. Just trying to prevent the unforeseeable things and building muscle tissue back up. The most challenging part for me is the mental part of it. Being out nine months and you see all your friends throwing and having fun. And you are limited to a very scripted schedule where you can only throw Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

Pop resumed light throwing in mid-November, eventually advancing from a distance of 45 feet to 60 feet and then 75 feet and then some long toss. He will advance to eventually throwing off the full mound and then throw some live batting practice. He has set a goal to get into some games by the end of May or in June. He could get about a half season in as he advances past the rehab mode.

Workouts have been ongoing for some players that reported to an early camp at Twin Lakes Park. The bulk of the pitchers reported March 4 and the rest of the position players report today. The first minor league spring games are set for March 18.

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